(Trans)National X-Factor

Patrick Stewart, Britishness and the Promotion of X-Men

in Critical Survey
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  • 1 University of Sussex r.denison@uea.ac.uk
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The terrain and identity of the blockbuster, particularly the subset represented by X-Men, are among the least mapped and consequently misunderstood of Hollywood phenomena. Though the entertainment media deploy the term blockbuster without difficulty across almost every genre of film, academically the term has been more elusive. Previous to Julian Stringer's edited collection Movie Blockbusters, the blockbuster had usually been conceived as an unproblematically American phenomenon. Stringer's attempt to map the blockbuster's terrain usefully brings in the notion of nationality, which will form the focus of this analysis. However, it also begs an explanation of the blockbuster as it will be understood here. This discussion will use John Tomlinson's formulation of globalisation as complex connectivity as the basis for a more flexible framework within which to view the blockbuster film. Thus this article will seek to make sense of the flows of culture represented in X-Men, not as emanating from a central 'American' locus, but rather as shifting around what David Morley and Kevin Robins would term a global-local nexus. In this way the transnational and the national will both be shown to play a role in dispersing elements of films (and indeed this might be extended to other 'global' products) to the maximum number of potential audiences worldwide.

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